Although microtubules in plant cells have been extensively studied, the mechanisms that regulate the spatial organization of microtubules are poorly understood. We hypothesize that the interaction between microtubules and cytoplasmic flow plays an important role in the assembly and orientation of microtubules. To test this hypothesis, we developed a new computational modeling framework for microtubules based on theory and methods from the fluid–structure interaction. We employed the immersed boundary method to track the movement of microtubules in cytoplasmic flow. We also incorporated details of the encounter dynamics when two microtubules collide with each other. We verified our computational model through several numerical tests before applying it to the simulation of the microtubule–cytoplasm interaction in a growing plant cell. Our computational investigation demonstrated that microtubules are primarily oriented in the direction orthogonal to the axis of cell elongation. We validated the simulation results through a comparison with the measurement from laboratory experiments. We found that our computational model, with further calibration, was capable of generating microtubule orientation patterns that were qualitatively and quantitatively consistent with the experimental results. The computational model proposed in this study can be naturally extended to many other cellular systems that involve the interaction between microstructures and the intracellular fluid.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Plant Science